At BerriBlends, self-serving dessert composers create custom frozen yogurt masterpieces. First, self-directed guests select tart or sweet yogurt flavors ($0.43/oz.). Dessert designers then cloak their cold foundations with walls of chocolate, berries, and other fresh toppings, much like a carpenter building a delicious house that can be disassembled with a spoon and strategic sweet tooth. Those who pursue healthy lifestyles can choose from a plethora of wholesome frozen-yogurt varieties, such as fat-free, low-calorie, diabetic-safe, lactose-safe, pro-biotic, and pro-American. BerriBlends also concocts several smoothies and coffee drinks.
In 2008, four sisters started Bambu Desserts & Drinks as a hobby. Today, the San Jose–born brand has established a major presence in the Bay Area, and has expanded to other states including Hawaii, Nevada, and Texas. Bambu’s success can be traced to the quality of its treats, as well as its variety: the menu is packed with about 100 Asian-inspired desserts and beverages. Tapioca balls float in their milk teas, which range in flavor from lychee to coconut to jasmine, and their dessert drinks combine such intriguing ingredients as coconut, pandan jelly, longan, basil seed—which form the Bambu special. Various hot and cold coffee drinks, such as Vietnamese coffee, café mochas, and lattes, put a spring in guests' step—more convenient than filling your shoes with jumping beans. The staffers also concoct blended coffees and smoothies, which come in flavors including strawberry, coconut, papaya, and avocado
Though the chefs at Babaloo International Cafe & Bar were inspired by the sharable small plates of Spain, they didn't limit themselves to just Spanish dishes. Instead, they craft appetizers and down-sized entrees of cuisines from around the world. This creates a varied menu, with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus appearing beside miniature beef wellingtons and Cuban crab cakes made with plantains. These dishes pair well with wines selected from the vineyards of Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and Australia, to create meals that are both light and filling, much like four courses of flavored heliums. When evening turns to night, the restaurant becomes a hotspot for dancing, with theme parties, hip-hop nights, and salsa dancing.
With 12 varieties of frozen yogurt that rotate daily, creating a custom treat at YoFresh Yogurt Cafe can be a little daunting. So the staff encourages guests to try samples before fully committing to one flavor. After deciding what yogurt they want as their base, patrons head to the topping station—a colorful conglomeration of buffet-style bins and wall-mounted dispensers—to finish off their creamy treat with any combination of more than 65 fruit and candy toppings.
The staff does more than help customers choose frozen-yogurt flavors. It dishes out coffees, bubble teas, and smoothies, as well as a selection of fresh pastries. Every Tuesday and Friday at 7 p.m., YoFresh invites customers to show off their sweet teeth while singing karaoke. It boldly stipulates that talent is not required to participate in the event, so long as you have a bit of enthusiasm and more sass than a cat in heels.
Kim’s Tea House Tapioca brews and blends flavorful tealeaves, coffee beans, tapioca pearls, and fresh fruits into palatable potions. Bubbling with a sea of sugary pastels and rich tea leaves, Kim’s menu drips with more than 150 varieties of teas, juices, smoothies, slurpies, and coffee to allay parched windpipes and rehabilitate tongues formerly banished to flavorless tundras. Sweet-seekers imbibe indulgent concoctions by outfitting beverages such as the honeydew cream tea ($3) or jackfruit smoothie ($3.25) with beads filled with tapioca, lychee, strawberry, and other inventive ingredients. Replenish levels of vitamins A and C with a glass of fresh carrot-orange juice ($3.25) or sample soothing leaf-based fusions such as the lavender green tea ($2.75), available hot or on ice. Break up slurping sessions with one of Kim's sandwiches topped with barbecue meat, avocado, and other savory ingredients to prevent teeth from growing restless and file a suit for tooth-fairy adoption.
Cloud Cafe's team of baristas creates hot, caffeinated drinks that double as sippable works of art. They finish off lattes with elaborate designs scrawled into foam, which carefully conceals the rich flavors of fair-trade beans sourced from the likes of Montana and Nicaragua that rest below. They also brew cups of loose-leaf herbal teas and dot exotic bubble tea varieties such as avocado with tapioca pearls. These aromatic cups complement a menu of pastries and sweets, which includes strawberries dipped in chocolate. This artistic bent makes sense, since the espresso and teahouse also doubles as an art gallery with pop art hanging from the walls and menus printed on the back of priceless masterpieces.